Update from the Flemings
Mary and I want to express appreciation for your support during the past several months as Mary underwent a series of chemo infusions at the Wilmot Cancer Center at Strong. Last week, the decision was made to discontinue any further chemo treatments at this time. The initial series of three treatments appear to have been effective in getting Mary’s CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) under control for now.
Your prayers and your many expressions of encouragement and love have touched us deeply. We are blessed to be a part of such a loving community of faith. Thank you!
Holy Week at Pearce
As you know, this weekend begins a special week of observance for Christians all over the world. Here at Pearce, we’ve planned several opportunities for you to gather with other believers to remember our Savior’s life and ministry.
This weekend, I’ll conclude our examination of the Lord’s Prayer with a message on forgiveness entitled “A Two-Way Street,” based on Matthew 6:12-15. On Palm Sunday morning, Jim Heeks and his crew will serve a delicious breakfast in our Family Life Center from 8-10:15am. Tickets for the breakfast can be purchased at the door for the modest price of $5.50 per person or $22 for an immediate family of four or more.
Next Wednesday, Pastor Kathy and her children’s ministry team will be hosting an egg hunt at Pearce, beginning at 6:30pm. I’ve been asked to participate in this event, so I am planning to be there!
On Good Friday, a sober service of Communion will be held in our sanctuary at 7pm. This is a Tenebrae service, a Latin term meaning “darkness,” referring to the fact that the service ends in darkness and silence to remind participants of the horrific death of our Lord on the cross.
On Easter Eve, our 5pm Saturday service will focus on the anxious period of waiting that the first followers of Jesus experienced in the hours following Good Friday and before receiving the news of Jesus’s resurrection. Although at this point in Christian history, we know that Jesus did indeed rise from the grave, we continue to experience a sense of waiting as we look forward to His return. As a special feature of this service, two young girls (Grace Brody and Avery Grimm) will be brought before the Lord by their parents.
Pearce will hold two worship services on Easter: the first at 9am followed by a 10:30am service. The services will be identical, filled with the rich music of Easter. I’ll be starting a new four-week sermon series that will take a look at the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. On Easter, we’ll consider His encounter with two of His disciples on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-35).
I hope you and your family will avail yourself of these times to gather to observe Holy Week.
Leaders of the Pack
Officers for Pearce’s Official Board, the board providing oversight of our church’s ministry, were elected last week. Evidently last year’s officers did a great job as all three of them were elected for another one-year-term. They are Jim Morton (chair), Mike Wilson (vice-chair), and Chuck Cockrell (legal secretary). I’m grateful to each of these individuals and appreciate their servant-leadership in helping our congregation fulfill its mission and vision.
On a bit of whimsical note, the board observed in a rather delicious way, a significant milestone at its meeting. Chuck Cockrell, who also serves as the chair of the board’s finance committee, brought a selection of desserts sliced in half. Board members were encouraged to enjoy “half a dessert” in recognition that Pearce has reached the point in its loan payments where the portion allocated for principal is equal to that allocated for interest.
The current weekly payment on Pearce’s debt is $4,866.25. So of that payment, 50% is now going to principal. Total debt now stands at $2,321,000. This debt was incurred in 2001, when the latest addition (the Pearce atrium, Family Life Center, and educational wing) was constructed. A special note of thanks to those of you who give regularly to our “Building Fund” and help reduce this debt.
Annual Mission Garage Sale
Earlier this week, I made my way to our “mission garage sale” shelves in my basement. You may have such a spot in your own house. Throughout the year, as Mary and I come across items we no longer wish to keep, we take those items down and set them on the shelves, poised to be taken to Pearce during the month of April.
I remind you that Pearce’s Annual Mission Garage Sale, now in its 13th year, has raised more than $150,000 for mission projects, both local and global. Last year’s sale set a new record and raised an astounding $21,437.28!
Following last Sunday’s worship service, I was gratified to have the unexpected privilege of meeting Xavier, a student at The Charles Finney School. Xavier, along with another student from the city of Rochester, has received a scholarship to attend this Christian school as a result of past Mission Garage Sales!
The 2016 Mission Garage Sale will be held on April 22 and 23. Why not start gathering items now?
The Report of My Death
In 1897, the New York Herald published an article reporting that Mark Twain, then 61 years of age, was “grievously ill and possibly dying.” A quite-healthy Twain, in London at the time of the article’s publication, responded “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”
I felt a bit like Twain when a someone recently commented that a Pearce attender had asked them “Why is Pastor Wally going on sabbatical for a year?” The report of my sabbatical, I feel compelled to state, was an exaggeration!
The real story is that I will be taking a sabbatical beginning on Friday, May 27, and that I will return to my pastoral duties at Pearce on Wednesday, August 31. Except for officiating at a couple of weddings and a week serving as the camp pastor at the Wabash Family Camp in Indiana (July 17 & 23), I’ll be “off the grid.” The Pastor’s Cabinet has graciously advised me to take advantage of the opportunity to attend other churches during this time and see what I can learn from observing other congregations.
The purpose of the sabbatical is to make headway on my dissertation at Northeastern Seminary, a task that I have delayed far too long! My dissertation, for those of you who are curious, is an ethnographical study of Pearce.
Ethnography is, to use the definition of Mary Clark Moschella in her book Ethnography as a Pastoral Practice, is “a way of immersing yourself in the life of a people in order to learn something about and from them.” More simply, it is a means of understanding an organization, Pearce Church in my case, by listening to the stories of the people who comprise the organization. So, even though I will be away from Pearce, I will be immersing myself in the stories of Pearce to better understand our community of faith.
I’ve had many people ask how I’m feeling about the sabbatical. I’ve responded that it’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, I’m looking forward to doing some research and writing. On the other hand, I am a bit anxious at the thought of stepping away for a few months from my vocation of 36 years. It will definitely be a new and challenging experience for me!
I’ve begun meeting with Pastor Jeremy to ensure everything functions smoothly in my absence. He will be serving as the interim lead pastor while I am gone.
I am deeply appreciative to Pearce’s generosity in granting this sabbatical. Thanks for your support, as I anticipate this time of being away.